US Coins

Inside the 2019 ANA auctions: Coveted Stack’s Bowers’ Rarities Night offerings

The official American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money auctions by Heritage and Stack’s Bowers Galleries are set to impress at Rosemont’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in metropolitan Chicago.

Leading the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Aug. 15 Rarities Night auction is an 1894-S Barber dime graded Branch Mint Proof 63 by PCGS with a green CAC sticker that Coin World discussed in the August monthly Market Analysis.

Beyond the dime, another coveted offering is an 1876-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent piece in PCGS MS-65 that is one of 10,000 minted at the Carson City Mint that year. A lack of demand meant they sat unused, and most were soon melted, though a few escaped. Stack’s Bowers writes, “Some went to the Assay Commission back East, and some were distributed as favors, presumably to locals but possibly to supplicants out of the area.” Augustus G. Heaton’s 1893 book A Treatise on Mint Marks popularized collecting issues by Mint, and issues like the 1876-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent piece and the 1870-S Seated Liberty dollar soon gained respect from collectors. Q. David Bowers wrote that in the 1950s, the 1876-CC Seated Liberty 20-cent piece was considered on par with the 1894-S Barber dime, before being overshadowed by other low-survival issues like the 1870-S dollar. Bowers concluded, “Today the 1876-CC twenty-cent piece remains a very famous rarity, its attraction undiminished despite some other silver issues from various mints being harder to find. Nearly all are Mint State.”

A dozen are perhaps known.

The offered example is described as “attractively original” with light toning, though the cataloger observes, “Typical for a circulation strike of this type, however, we do note isolated areas of softness, particularly at Liberty’s head and thighs on the obverse, the eagle’s upper right wing, head, and the center of its breast on the reverse.”

Curious pattern 1916 halves

Two of the most intriguing coins are well-circulated 1916 patterns for Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar representing subtle design variations. The first is graded Proof, Very Fine Details, Tooled, by PCGS and is listed as Judd 1992/1797 in the pattern reference. It is one of perhaps a dozen known, and researcher Roger W. Burdette believes this type represents the second pattern Walking Liberty half dollar variety produced, likely struck between July 27 and Aug. 18, 1916. It has even, silver gray surfaces with bold design elements, while a concentration of deep scratches in the obverse field provides a reason for the PCGS qualifier. 

The second is graded Very Good 8 by PCGS and has a green CAC sticker. The cataloger explains, “This design is very similar to that which the Mint adopted for regular issue Walking Liberty half dollar production, although the borders are beaded (instead of plain), the date is larger, and the letter E in LIBERTY is positioned differently relative to Liberty’s head.” Burdette believes this is the final type of Walking Liberty pattern, struck between Oct. 21 and Nov. 11, 1916. Listed as Judd 1996/1800 in the series reference, it is one of possibly just two known. 

Designs on both patterns are close to those used on regular Walking Liberty half dollars, and it is intriguing that these circulated for years without collectors noticing that they were not regular issues. Each is from the E. Horatio Morgan Collection.

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